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2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Becomes Bigger In Size And Better In Functionality

Image Source: Teddy Leung / Shutterstock

Whenever an automobile manufacturer overhauls a vehicle, it almost always grows larger. This expansion in size is beneficial for family vehicles as it provides more room for occupants and their belongings. If the manufacturer is clever, the redesign will feature a striking new appearance that will attract potential buyers. Well, Hyundai exhibits intelligence in this aspect, and the revamped 2024 Santa Fe is larger, features a more daring design, and Hyundai has also incorporated some intelligent storage solutions. Regrettably, it comes with a higher price tag, but that seems to be the trend these days, doesn’t it?

Measuring 190.2 inches in length, the fifth-generation Santa Fe is 1.8 inches longer than the previous model, with a wheelbase of 110.8 inches which is almost two inches longer. The height has also increased by 1.4 inches to 67.7 inches. Witness the traditional size expansion.

It also presents a larger visual appeal, thanks to its bold new angular design that is sure to captivate potential buyers. The Santa Fe now embraces a more block-like profile reminiscent of a Range Rover, although it maintains its unique characteristics. Striking wheel arches wrap around each tire, and the overall silhouette is more squared-off than its predecessor.

The design elements are equally intriguing. At the front, a horizontal grille is divided by a lightbar that terminates in two H-shaped LED headlights. The lower air intakes house active grille shutters that mirror the design above. The rear fascia features a clean, squared-off look with a pair of H-shaped LED taillights positioned low to allow for a wide-opening tailgate.

The angular and horizontal theme continues inside the vehicle, where the dashboard showcases a pair of 12.3-inch screens angled towards the driver. Every Santa Fe comes equipped with dual gloveboxes positioned above and below a row of air vents at the base of the dashboard. The upper glovebox can double as a UV sanitizer that requires 10 minutes to cleanse your phone. Additionally, the dashboard includes a tray for storing small items, and the center console can be outfitted with one or two wireless phone chargers.

The clever design doesn’t stop there. The center console can be accessed from the front or rear to allow second-row occupants to reach it. They can also reach it through a tray at the base and adjust the front passenger seat forward (if unoccupied, please) via controls located inside the rear of that seat.

Buyers can select from cloth, synthetic leather, or genuine leather upholstery depending on the trim level, with 6-way power adjustments standard for the driver’s seat, while 8-way adjustments are available for both the driver and front passenger seats. The seats are spacious and comfortable for extended periods, and the quality of interior materials improves as you progress through the lineup, with the Calligraphy model standing out for its near Genesis-level luxury.

Second-row passengers enjoy ample legroom with up to 42.3 inches available, an increase of 1.4 inches from the previous year. Seating three adults on the standard bench seat might be a squeeze, but opting for the available captain’s chairs will please two second-row passengers.

The increased dimensions provide the Santa Fe with more interior space, including the addition of a third row for the first time since the second generation. The third row offers just 30.0 inches of legroom, a figure that would make even Spirit Airlines blush, with low seat bottoms and minimal thigh support, resulting in passengers sitting with knees elevated for extended journeys. While a pair of adults can fit back there with some negotiation for legroom with second-row occupants, long-term comfort might be compromised. Access to the third row is relatively easy, with buttons on the second-row seats facilitating their tilt and slide movement, although this process may take some time in models with power-operated seats.

The enhanced space also translates to increased cargo capacity. The new Santa Fe provides 14.6 cubic feet behind the third row (similar to that of a midsize sedan’s trunk), 40.5 cubic feet with the third row folded flat, and 79.6 cubic feet with both the second and third rows folded down. This represents a gain of 4.1 cubic feet behind the second row and 7.5 additional cubic feet behind the first row compared to the previous model. The wider tailgate, which is now 6.0 inches broader than its predecessor and 2.0 inches taller, coupled with the low liftover height and flat load floor, makes loading bulky items a breeze. Paired with a spacious cargo area and convenient access, the Santa Fe proves to be an excellent choice for a weekend excursion to Home Depot.

Increased dimensions result in higher mass, and the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe has gained around 700 pounds, with a variation of between 400 to 500 pounds depending on the engine choice. Consequently, last year’s 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 engine is no longer sufficient, prompting the inclusion of last year’s optional engine selection as the new base engine. This consists of a 2.5-liter turbo-4 generating 277 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. Although this engine performs well in the Genesis G70 and Hyundai Sonata N Line, it doesn’t provide the new Santa Fe with a rapid acceleration. According to a Hyundai engineer, the 0-60 mph acceleration takes approximately eight seconds, which provides adequate power for maneuvering through traffic or executing a well-thought-out highway pass.

The turbo-4 engine distributes power to either the front or all four wheels through an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While the transmission generally shifts smoothly, it may engage the next gear too early for optimal power delivery and at times becomes perplexed in urban traffic scenarios where you might accelerate, decelerate, and then accelerate once more.

As an alternative, there is a retained 178-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4 hybrid powertrain that collaborates with a 44-kw electric motor within its 6-speed automatic transmission. This hybrid system produces a combined output of 231 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. Although we have not tested it yet, the 0-60 mph time is likely to hover around nine seconds. While this performance may seem sluggish by current standards, the key advantage lies in its fuel efficiency. Whereas the base engine achieves EPA ratings of up to 20 mpg city, 29 highway, and 24 combined, the hybrid variant reaches a peak of 36/35/36 mpg. Given this substantial difference, the slight $500 premium for the hybrid option is expected to pay dividends in the near future.

Greater size doesn’t necessarily translate to improved handling. Despite offering a stable, smooth, and quiet ride, the new Santa Fe imparts a sense of the vehicle’s bulkiness from the driver’s seat, accompanying noticeable body roll during cornering maneuvers. Weighing between 4,343-4,575 pounds, it stands on the heavier end within its class, resulting in measured responses instead of nimble agility. Nevertheless, the steering response is rather rewarding. Boasting a 13.7:1 ratio, it demonstrates surprisingly swift reactions, while maintaining sufficient heft for enhanced stability.

Featuring a ground clearance of 7.0 inches, the standard Santa Fe is not geared for off-road expeditions despite its resembling appearance to a Land Rover. However, the XRT model raises the bar with an extra 1.3 inches of ground clearance and all-terrain 30-inch-diameter tires. Equipped with knobby Continental TerrainContact tires, the XRT showcases strong grip on steep uphill dirt terrains, aided further by the standard locking center differential of its all-wheel-drive system. It also incorporates hill-descent control for safely navigating downhill slopes, with the elevated ride height improving approach, breakover, and departure angles for surmounting diverse off-road obstacles, albeit lacking special front and rear fascias for a more optimized clearance.

Despite these advancements, the XRT falls short as a proficient off-roading vehicle. Lacking essential features such as skid plates, low-range gearing, locking differentials, or off-road cameras, it cannot match the capabilities of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. While it can handle off-the-path campsites and navigate various dirt or gravel roads, it is advisable not to plan extensive off-road excursions like those in Moab.

Hyundai Santa Fe model range and pricing

Enhanced dimensions and added power lead to elevated prices, with an increase of $5,260 at the base model level and up to $9,000 at the top tier. While the 2023 Santa Fe had an initial price around $30,000, the starting price for the 2024 model now sits at $35,345 for the SE trim. This entry-level model is equipped with features such as cloth upholstery, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a hands-free tailgate, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Further available trim levels for the Santa Fe include SEL, XRT, Limited, and Calligraphy. Customers may need to invest more to access some of the premium features. For instance, the XRT at $41,995 incorporates synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, navigation, a wireless phone charger, a digital key, a wifi hotspot, a 115-volt power outlet, and a sunroof. Moving up to the $44,745 Limited trim brings in additional luxuries like leather upholstery, a comprehensive 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, driver’s seat memory, a premium Bose 12-speaker audio system, a surround-view camera system, and 20-inch wheels. The Calligraphy variant commences at $47,895 and boasts amenities like a glovebox UV sanitizer, second-row captain’s chairs, a head-up display, a synthetic suede headliner, ambient lighting, and 21-inch alloy wheels.

The XRT model offers a substantial array of enticing features, although the additional equipment found in the Limited trim could also be very appealing.

Despite the higher pricing, the Santa Fe now presents itself not merely as a budget-friendly option as it did previously. Nevertheless, with its updated premium appearance, enhanced passenger and cargo space, and intelligent storage solutions, it better serves families than ever before. In this instance, a larger and more striking vehicle does indeed offer an improved experience.

Image Source: Teddy Leung / Shutterstock

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